Two and a half years after the land scandal involving Andre Vega, Sharon Pitts and prime properties near the Haulover Bridge, Vega went to court today, as the Government of Belize is seeking to recover the monies paid out to Vega as land compensation. The payout came from the Ministry of Natural Resources after the Lands Department gave Vega and Pitts lands that were already privately owned. The 2016 scandal caused the then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources, Gaspar Vega, to resign from Cabinet and led to the Government taking the matter to court to get back the monies. Vega is represented by Attorney, Estevan Perera.
Estevan Perera – Attorney at Law: “The issue before the court as far as we see it it that whether or not the settlement agreement stands and if you enter into a settlement agreement you must stand by it. As indicated when I first started I was explaining to the gentleman. We know that there is an area for one of the titles for a duplication of the title to exist, you cannot have two titles so one of the titles has to have an error so because of that error you enter into a settlement agreement so that neither party sues the government and one party who gives up his interest, whatever that interest may be is compensated. That is done everyday for many errors that may take place at the Lands Department. When looking at a case like this one has to appreciate that when you, I, an investor or any Belizean goes to do a search and title we trace back the title to the Ministries Fiat Grant and to the root of the title so it is extremely difficult if the Government issues two Ministers title. It is extremely difficult for any searcher to find both. It is not the same title you know, it is not what you me be expecting or thinking that this title that is issued subsequent is a title that forms a portion of the initial title so it is not identical. One would not have had come across two identical and say that this is an error.”
The case was heard before Justice Courtney Abel. Two witnesses were called, namely, the Commissioner of Lands, Wilbert Vallejos and the defendant, Andre Vega. In his defence, Vega said that prior to purchasing the property, he did not find any lien against it. At the hearing, Assistant Solicitor General Samantha Matute-Tucker represented the Crown. The case was adjourned until July 19.